Kinect for Windows now available for $249
Last month, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer announced that Kinect for Windows would be shipping on February 1st. Well, February 1st is finally here and Microsoft has officially reported that today version 1.0 of the SDK and runtime were made available for download, and distribution partners in the twelve launch countries are starting to ship Kinect for Windows hardware.
The suggested retail price for Kinect for Windows is $249, but later this year Microsoft has plans to offer a special academic price of $149 for Qualified Educational Users.
Since Beta 2 was released three months ago, Microsoft has made many improvements to the SDK and runtime, including:
- Support for up to four Kinect sensors plugged into the same computer
- Significantly improved skeletal tracking, including the ability for developers to control which user is being tracked by the sensor
- Near Mode for the new Kinect for Windows hardware, which enables the depth camera to see objects as close as 40 centimeters in front of the device
- Many API updates and enhancements in the managed and unmanaged runtimes
- The latest Microsoft Speech components (V11) are now included as part of the SDK and runtime installer
- Improved “far-talk” acoustic model that increases speech recognition accuracy
- New and updated samples, such as Kinect Explorer, which enables developers to explore the full capabilities of the sensor and SDK, including audio beam and sound source angles, color modes, depth modes, skeletal tracking, and motor controls
- A commercial-ready installer which can be included in an application’s set-up program, making it easy to install the Kinect for Windows runtime and driver components for end-user deployments.
- Robustness improvements including driver stability, runtime fixes, and audio fixes
- More details can be found here
Looking forward, Microsoft has plans on releasing updates to the SDK and runtime 2-3 times per year, and according to the post the team is already "hard at work"on the next release.
"We are continuing to invest in programs like our Testing and Adoption Program and the Kinect Accelerator, and will work to create new programs in the future to help support our developer and partner ecosystem," Microsoft said in a blog post today. "We will also continue to listen to our developer community and business customers for the kinds of features and capabilities they need, as they re-imagine the future of computing using the power of Kinect."